CHANGE STRATEGY

Electing The Change Proponents

Change is inevitable in business. New product launches, competition, and employees bring about shifts in business strategies and leadership. Employees who manage change with grace will adapt to the newer circumstances while remaining productive. Adaptability and excellence is the mantra in the progress of any organisation at any stage of maturity. Companies often need to change to meet new demands. Good companies have employees who swiftly adapt to industry, market and technology changes.

 

IN BOX

 

Adaptable Employees

 

Employees with the skills to adapt to change ultimately help companies grow. These employees:

 

  • Stay calm under pressure
  • Try out new tools and techniques to improve their work
  • Quickly come up with solutions in the event of a problem or conflict
  • Accept new team members and working styles
  • While there are several factors and resources that need orchestration for successful transformation from time to time, transformation, by and of the human resources is the most impactful driver in this process.
  • The capability to adapt is directly associated with open mindedness.

 

As a human resource strategy, including adaptability, and therefore open mindedness in every aspect of the employee life cycle is key to successful transformation. Job analysis should include adaptability as an important trait / competency irrespective of the type and level for which the job is defined during the manpower planning stage. As part of the behavioural assessment adaptability / open mindedness should be mandatorily included.

 

The Evaluating Questions

 

The following questions will help you evaluate how candidates:

 

  • Deal with unpredictable conditions (E.g. when a team member quits)
  • Adjust to changing circumstances (E.g. when clients modify their requirements)
  • Help their co-workers embrace change (E.g.  when they have to comply with a new company policy)
  • Take on new tasks (E.g.  when their job requirements increase)

 

Examples of adaptability interview questions

 

  • How do you adjust to changes you have no control over? (E.g. A person from your team decides to quit.)
  • If your co-workers had a “this is how we do it” attitude to learning something new, how would you try to convince them to follow a different and a more effective method of working?
  • What are the biggest challenges being faced by you while starting a new job?
  • You have been working on a client’s project for a while, when your manager informs you that the project’s requirements changed suddenly. What would you do?
  • How do you re-adjust your schedule when your manager asks you to prepare a report within an hour? How do you ensure that you do not fall behind in your regular tasks?
  • Describe a time when you were assigned new tasks (E.g. due to job enrichment or promotion). How did you adapt?
  • The new HR Manager implements formal, quarterly performance reviews for all employees. How would you prepare yourself and your team, if you were used to having only informal meetings?
  • Tell me about a time you had to learn how to use a new tool at work. How long did it take for you to understand its features and use it every day?

 

Evaluating Candidates’ Adaptability Skills

 

How to evaluate candidates’ adaptability skills

 

  • The onboarding process requires employees to adjust to new team members and different working styles. Candidates who describe how quickly they have onboarded in past positions are likely to be successful in their new role.
  • For candidates who are considering a significant career change, ask what drives them to make that move, and, how confident they are with unfamiliar procedures and tasks.
  • Keep an eye out for people who consider all possible scenarios before making a decision. These candidates are more likely to adjust to unplanned circumstances.
  • For senior-level positions, seek candidates who value flexibility, are open to new ideas, and, have solid change management skills.
  • If the position requires participating in multiple projects and collaborating with various teams/departments, opt for candidates who prefer mixing up their daily tasks instead of a routine.

 

Red flags

 

They are not open-minded. People who stick to what they already know and are reluctant to try non-traditional solutions are less likely to adapt well to change.

They are scared of the unknown. If your company’s environment is fast-paced and employees need to take on multiple tasks beyond their scope of responsibilities, look for candidates who like to take risks and learn new skills.

They are not good team players. Being adaptable also means adjusting your working style for the team’s sake. Opt for candidates who value collaboration and flexibility.

They are nervous. Candidates who cannot stay calm when there are sudden changes might not be able to find quick and effective solutions to unexpected issues.

They are negative. Candidates who blame others and are grumpy when they have to adapt to a change are less likely to accept new circumstances.

 

For senior-level employees and managers, it is crucial not only to adjust to change, but also to:

 

  • Recognize the need for change
    • E.g. We need to evaluate employee performance regularly to increase our productivity.
  • Prepare action plans that include doable and measurable tasks
    • E.g. We will train managers to conduct weekly one-to-one meetings, gather employee feedback and evaluate the process at the end of the quarter.
  • Manage resistance
    • E.g. We will convince reluctant managers to implement regular performance appraisals by presenting the advantages of frequent meetings.
  • Implement corrective actions and improvements when required
    • E.g. We will implement monthly team meetings in addition to weekly individual meetings, to foster better communication in our department.

 

The following change management interview questions will help you identify candidates who will navigate change in both day-to-day operations and large-scale projects.

 

Some examples of Change management interview questions

 

  • How do you explain to the team members that they need to alter a process immediately? (E.g. for developers, the team needs to build a new feature on a tight deadline, due to additional system requirements)
  • Describe a time when you struggled to persuade your team to modify your goals or delegate tasks differently. What happened?
  • How do you measure the results of a modification made by you? Give an example of a time you successfully modified a regular procedure.
  • What metrics would you use to assess risk?
  • Mention a few reasons why people resist change. How can you ensure that all processes and decisions are transparent within the organisation?
  • How would you handle it if your manager asked you to implement a different way of working but did not explain why?
  • What information do you include in a project plan to ensure all necessary actions are scheduled and measured?
  • How do you react to the standard “this is how we do things” response to a request for change?
  • How would you announce an unpopular decision (example a budget cut)?

 

How to assess change management skills during interviews?

 

  • New hires are confronted with the task of transitioning to a different work environment with new team members and unfamiliar procedures. Candidates who describe how they have onboarded in different roles are more likely to be successful in a new position.
  • Candidates’ openness to change can be gauged by the questions they ask you. If they want to learn more about how you work and what the role includes, they are ready to take on a new job.
  • If you are hiring for an executive or C-suite role, make sure your candidates have experience implementing corrective and preventive actions that improved company operations.
  • If you are looking for senior-level employees, opt for candidates with a strategic vision who have demonstrated that they think long-term. They will be able to identify the need for change and implement it before it seems like the only option.
  • Change management requires strong decision-making skills. During interviews, test candidates’ ability to analyse pros and cons, compare alternatives and reach logical decisions.

 

Red flags

 

  • They have poor communication skills. Each step of the change management process requires frequent and transparent communication among interested parties. Candidates who lack communication and interpersonal skills will not be able to effectively collaborate with their co‑workers.
  • They show signs of arrogance. One staple of change management is wanting to improve your performance. “Know-it-alls” who think they are already doing the best are the first ones to resist trying something new.
  • They underestimate performance metrics. You understand the need to revise processes when you regularly measure results. Candidates who value feedback and performance metrics are more likely to embrace improvements.
  • They are reactive, not proactive. If you want to hire employees who will bring new perspectives to your organisation, it is best to look for people who are able to recognize future risks and opportunities and proactively suggest adjustments.
  • They lack leadership ability. Managers need to be confident when presenting the need for change (especially when it is urgent) and be prepared to battle resistance. If candidates demonstrate poor leadership skills, they are less likely to gain their team’s trust.
  • They are not good team players. Significant or frequent changes may disrupt a team or cause tension. If your work environment is dynamic, it is best to hire employees who value collaboration and are able to foster a friendly workplace.

 

Diversity as a vehicle for change

 

Diversity in workforce also increases organisation capability to transform successfully.

 

  • Encourage managers to play role-models and prioritize to inculcate the attributes of acceptance and interpret any change instances with a level of excitement than otherwise.

 

  • Recognizing the competency related to change management both on and off business meetings encourages employees to align and imbibe these as the ways of working.

 

  • Recognition and communication encouraging open mindedness should run top down and this alone with cause the enrolment.

 

  • Cross skilling employees or helping them round off their understanding between functional expertise and business impact keeps the employees from turning complacent and they are operationally better equipped than those who were in a single role for a long time, or, were not involved in contributing to the business impact.

 

In Quotes “Cross skilling employees or helping them round off their understanding between functional expertise and business impact keeps the employees from turning complacent…”

 

  • Encouraging employees to take diverse initiatives that help them to blend cultural strengths with work life fosters acceptance in a multi-cultural business environment.

 

  • Structuring annual bonuses that are linked to demonstration of company values besides performance, reminds employees of prioritizing to align beyond functional responsibilities.

 

  • Organisation-wide community building garnering common interests also brings together diverse groups of employees – a photography club, a fun club, community contribution committee, indoor or outdoor competitive events, etc. are some of such examples of community building.

 

  • Promoting diversity and inclusion increases the adaptability of the organisation.

 

  • Have lively, interesting meetings, extract and exploit the ideas of all team members, solve real problems quickly, minimize politics, and put critical topics on the table for discussion – all these lead to a culture of constructive conflicts that leads to improved quality and processes towards a shared goal and successful transformation by and for the people.

 

  • Training and development investments by the organisation around operational readiness reminds employees that change is the only constant in a progressive business.
Neeraj Sharma is the Senior Director of Human Resources at FourKites. Prior to Fourkites, he partnered with leaders across geographies in identifying and acquiring top talent in software engineering and for Indian corporations like Adobe Systems and Walmart Technologies. Neeraj holds a Masters in Administration and Management from the National Council of Hotel Management.

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